A home’s foundation is its silent guardian, which serves as a support system in maintaining its structural integrity. Unfortunately, it often gets neglected until the signs of damage appear. Do you also come across questions like:
What are the signs of foundation issues?
What are the causes of foundation damage?
What are the best foundation repair methods?
How can one identify foundation problems?
How can you prevent foundation damage?
Foundation issues develop silently beneath the surface and, if left unchecked, can damage the durability and strength of your home. In this comprehensive guide, we will help you explore everything you need to know about foundation repair.
Different types of foundation
There are different types of foundations for homes, including:
- Wood Foundation
- Slab Foundation
- Pier Foundation
- Pile Foundation
Signs of Foundation Problems
The support system of your home, its the foundation, often gives subtle signs indicating that you need to pay attention to foundation repair. Some of these signs include:
- Cracks in walls, ceilings, around windows, and door frames
- Uneven or sloping floors
- Trouble in opening or closing doors and windows
- Leaning exterior or interior walls
- Differences in the alignment of doors and windows
- Appearance of cracks or hairline fractures in the foundation
- Sinking or moving foundation
- Crawlspace or basement problems like water seepage or dampness
- Gaps or cracks in the external walls
Causes of Foundation Problems
Disrupting the delicate equilibrium beneath the surface of your home can lead to foundation damage. Some common causes of foundation damages are listed below:
- Poor construction choices, shortcuts, and inappropriate foundation design
- Over-saturated soil or changes in soil’s moisture content
- Lack of proper drainage, water seepage, and excessive moisture lead to soil erosion and weak foundation
- The growth of plants and trees near the foundation depletes the moisture of the soil
- Inadequate slab construction
- Landsliding due to rainfall
- Soil settlement underneath your foundation
How to Identify Foundation Damage Issues
The proactive approach to safeguard your home’s foundation is the timely detection of foundation damage. Identify and address minor issues on time to save yourself from spending large amounts of cash on foundation repair. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can identify foundation problems.
Step 1: Visually examine the external foundation walls for gaps, cracks, or any damage.
Step 2: Notice changes in the alignment of doors and windows.
Step 3: Inspect the Foundation for water-related issues like damp areas and water leakage.
Step 4: Check the ground level. Look for uneven or over-saturated soil around your foundation.
Step 5: Check the water accumulation, especially after rainfall.
Step 6: Examine cracks in walls, specifically near doors and windows.
Step 7: Use a level to check the sloping of floors.
Equipment for Identifying Foundation Damage
Although it is better to seek professional help for a proper examination of your foundation, you can do it yourself, too. If you want to inspect the cracks and gaps in your foundation by yourself, you might need some tools and equipment.
- Use a flashlight to illuminate dark spaces in the basement or crawlspace.
- Estimate the depth of the gaps and cracks using a screwdriver.
- Use spirit level to evaluate uneven, sinking, or sloping floors.
- Use a garden hose to conduct a water drainage test. It helps in identifying grading or drainage related problems.
Foundation Repair Methods
Different foundation problems require specialized solutions. Methods of repairing the damaged foundation can vary depending on the foundation type, soil type, and climate. Your foundations can require either minor adjustments or permanent repair.
1. Permanent Foundation Repairs
You can re-establish your home’s support by repairing its foundations permanently. It is important to consider the soil quality and composition underneath your house in this regard. Some popular methods for permanent repairing foundations include:
a. Underpinning and Piercing
It is the most commonly used procedure for repairing damaged foundations. Underpinning can be done by using two methods:
- Push Piers: Push piers, or resistance piers, are galvanized steel pipes attached to a hydraulic jack. For repairing the foundation, the piers are embedded deep into the load-bearing soil using the weight of the building and are strong enough to support the foundation. This method helps in resolving settlement or instability issues.
- Helical Piers: A helical pier comprises a steel shaft attached to helical blades. These blades allow the pier’s easy installation to the ground. Helical piers are used for repairing foundations where the soil structure does not support conventional push piers.
For repairing foundations, these piers are screwed below the foundation until they settle upon a solid construction that will bear the weight of the building. It is essential to place helical piers at routine intervals to disperse the weight of the building evenly.
b. Concrete Pressed Piles
Concrete pressed piles are made of concrete cylinders of 6 in diameter and 12 inches in height piled on top of each other. For repairing the foundation, these piles are pressed into the soil below the foundation. The professionals can use eight or more concrete piles to reach a strong support underneath the soil.
2. Minor Adjustments in Foundations
Sometimes, the foundations do not need heavy-duty repair; rather, they can be fixed with minor adjustments. Here are some minor adjustments your foundation might need.
a. Underpinning and Piercing
Mudjacking, also known as slabjacking, involves:
- Drilling holes into the concrete slab at regular intervals
- Injecting a stabilizing mixture of water and solid material like polyurethane foam under the concrete slab to lift it
- Plugging the holes
Sometimes, the soil or the ground on which your home is built may not be of good quality. It might be prone to erosion or not strong enough to provide support. In this case, the foundation repair experts incorporate steel shims to fill gaps in the soil to provide adequate support to piles or piers.
c. Sealing Cracks
To repair cracks in foundations, experts use sealants like polyurethane foam and hydraulic cement to prevent water from seeping into your foundation. It is necessary to seal the cracks in the foundation to keep new foundation walls dry. Therefore, foundation repair companies usually seal them right after the repair.
How to Prevent Major Foundation Damage?
Since most of the foundation problems are rooted in water seepage, you should consider the fact that water is not always a good ally. The best way to prevent foundation damage is to control the level of groundwater and prevent it from entering your home’s foundation. You can do this by employing various strategies.
- Never let your gutters get clogged. Water overflows from clogged gutters and enters into the ground next to your foundation.
- Install gutter downspout extensions to drain water 5-10 feet away from your foundation.
- Don’t plant trees and vegetation near your house.
- Waterproof the exterior and interior walls of your foundation.
- Use a sump pump to take water out of your basement or crawlspace.
- Improve grading: Use a French drain to release water from the foundation into the landscape slowly.
- Small cracks appear in walls with time and climate changes. But do not ignore diagonal cracks. They are indicative of soil settlement underneath your basement.
Foundation serves as a support system for the durability and stability of your home. Poor construction choices, water leakage, heavy rainfall, or soil settlement can damage your foundation. Expected indications of foundation damage include cracks and gaps in walls, especially near doors and windows, and sinking and sloping floors. Different methods like concrete piling, piering, underpinning, and shimming can be used to repair foundations. It is necessary to identify and address foundation problems in time to avoid substantial damage to the structural integrity of your home.